Space X Launch New Falcon 9 Rocket With Satellites Onboard

Homemade Rocket

Liftoff occurred just after 7 am PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The Falcon 9 rocket being used for the launch was previously used in October for an Iridium satellite mission, and it was successfully recovered for re-use.

"GPS guided parafoil twisted, so fairing impacted water at high speed", he said on Twitter.

By using "Mr. Steven", a large navigable platform ship with extended "arms" and a net strung between them, SpaceX was trying to "catch" one of the two payload fairings that enclose the satellite at the top of the rocket.

SpaceX did not attempt its signature move on Friday by landing the first-stage rocket booster.

But SpaceX wants to change that, mostly because the fairing on its Falcon 9 costs $6 million. SpaceX is using ocean landings to test more booster recovery options and there were reports before Iridium-5 of a SpaceX boat stationed in the Pacific Ocean, presumably to retrieve data after an ocean landing attempt.

Recovering and reusing a fairing has never been done by any company or government.

"Mr Steven is 5 mins away from being under the falling fairing", Musk tweeted after Friday's launch.

The company has quietly tried to recapture the 43-foot-long fairing halves since at least March of 2017.

The satellites are owned by Virginia-based Iridium Communications, which is replacing its entire fleet.

The $3-billion U.S. project is scheduled for completion this year, with a total of 75 new satellites in orbit.

Through the low-Earth orbiting satellites, Iridium aims to deliver broadband Internet service to places across the globe where land-base cellular technology isn't available.

In 2015, when Google made a $1 billion investment in the space company, SpaceX told investors it expected to generate significant revenue from its satellite constellation by 2020.

When complete, the constellation will consist of 66 operational satellites and nine spares in orbit.

Thanks to SpaceX's efforts to reuse hardware, its Falcon 9 rocket is drastically cheaper than competing rockets - and the customers keep lining up.

Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is now developing the refinements that will enable Dragon to fly crew.

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